Talkeetna: (907) 733-2273 ~ Willow: (907) 495-4100 ~ Wasilla: (907) 376-2273

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Can Vitamin D Help Your Immune System? 

Foods with vitamin d

We all know that long winter months in Alaska mean shorter light hours. For those of us that work indoors, the sun doesn’t show up at all! With many working from home, not leaving the house at all, sun exposure is close to nil. The more time that passes without sun exposure, the higher your risk of developing seasonal affective disorder or SAD. In addition to the normal seasonal effects of less light, we are also dealing with a pandemic. Healthy Vitamin D levels are also a key part of our immune response.

Make Sure You Get Enough Vitamin D

Not many foods contain vitamin D; your best sources are cod liver, swordfish, tuna, egg yolks, beef liver, cheese, certain mushrooms, and other vitamin D fortified foods like cereals, orange juice, and dairy and plant milk. Aside from these foods, increased intake of vegetables and reduced intake of processed meat consumption will give your body that extra boost it needs to fight unwanted infections and even enhance your mood and productivity.

Vitamin D is vital for building and strengthening bones. A precursor of vitamin D is found just under the skin. When exposed to sunlight it becomes vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), its active form. It then enhances calcium absorption helping children build strong bones, and adults prevent osteoporosis. Beyond bone strengthening, some studies have shown that it is also required in multiple processes in the body and may help reduce inflammation, hasten infection recovery, protect the kidneys, and boost the immune system.

When your body lacks vitamin D due to poor diet, absorption, lack of sunlight exposure, and metabolic irregularities. The combination of:

  1. a pandemic where many are staying home,
  2. and cold winter weather when we are less apt to want to go outside,

can significantly contribute to vitamin D deficiency.

Some of the symptoms of a lack of vitamin D could be one or more of the following:

  • Digestive problems and inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis with difficulty in fat metabolism
  • Heart disease and high blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Recurrent infections and immune system disorders
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Colon, breast, prostate cancers

However, unsupervised consumption of vitamin D supplements can be risky because it may lead to toxicity. Since vitamin D binds to fats, excess amounts of this is not readily eliminated by the body and can cause severe complications. Over time, the accumulation of vitamin D in the system will lead to the hardening of blood vessels and tissues because of too much calcium absorption, potentially damaging the heart and kidneys.

But having a low immune system at this time is a no-no because this will increase your risk of contracting infections from bacteria and viruses. Getting enough vitamin D and other vitamins and minerals from your diet is the best way to ensure that your immune system is in tip-top condition. Getting your daily vitamin and mineral requirement from your diet will allow the body to absorb these nutrients better and, at the same time, will eliminate the risk of overdose that could lead to unwanted side effects.

So eat healthily and get your daily dose of sunshine of at least 10-15 minutes to allow your newly obtained vitamin D source to convert into its active form. While you’re at it, incorporate a short workout in between your work breaks!

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